2006 season: 7-9
Head Coach: Mike Nolan
Offensive Coordinator: Norv Turner
Defensive Coordinator: Greg Manusky
Pro-Bowl: Frank Gore(RB)
The biggest downfall of San Francisco's offense was their passing game. But this year it wasn't so much the quarterback's fault like last year, but the lack of a #1 receiver. They did have a very strong running game this season with the emergence of Pro-Bowler Frank Gore. Although he had been banged up for majority of the season, Gore was still able to rush for close to 1,700 yards and he scored 8 touchdowns. He also showed that he is a weapon catching the ball, he led the team in catches with 61 and came in third in receiving yards with 485. Alex Smith bounced back from a horrible rookie season, he threw for 2,890 yards, 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. From the wide receiver standpoint, this was one of the weakest positions on the 49er's offense. Any time your leading receiver has just 61 catches and is a running back, you're going to have a bit of a problem. Antonio showed glimpses of being a number one option, but he missed 3 games and only caught 40 balls, he did lead the team with 733 yards tied for the team lead with 3 touchdowns. Rookie tight end, Vernon Davis missed 8 games with a broken leg, but still had 20 receptions for 265 yards and 3 touchdowns. With a full season he should really start to distance himself as a premiere tight end in the NFC.
San Francisco's definitely didn't have the type of defense that would scare opponents. They were below average stopping the run, ranking 19th, allowing over 120 ppg and their pass defense was the 6th worst in all of football. Biggest problem was the lack of a solid corner back and an impact nose tackle to go along with the 3-4 defense that they run. Linebacker, Brandon Moore led the team in tackles with 92, not only was it the team high, it was a career high for him. He also led the team with 6.5 sacks. The 49er's defense has alot of aging players like Bryant Young, Derek Smith and Walt Harris. Although all of those guys had good years, their time in the NFL could be winding down, so it would be wise for San Fran to look at getting replacements in the near future. Speaking of Harris, he tied for second in the NFL with 8 interceptions. From the safety position, Keith Lewis exploded on the scene, finally getting the chance to start, he recorded 76 tackles, 1 sack and 2 interceptions.
Joe Nedney was very good once again, hitting 83% of his field goals and kicked all of his extra points(29). Andy Lee had a great year punting the ball, with an average of 44.8 and 9 touch backs. He was ranked the seventh best punter in the NFL. Also having another great year was Maurice Hicks on kick returns. He had 1,428 yards for an average of 25.1. Brandon Williams took over punt return duties and he didn't do to well, averaging just 6.7 yards.
Like I said, they are desperately in need of #1 receiver, the best guy to fill that need is Dwayne Jarrett. He is big, strong, excellent route runner and in my opinion he has the best hands in the whole draft. The only knock against him is his speed, but his strengths will cover that one weakness, look for him to be a huge end zone threat. The niners could also go after Ted Ginn Jr. if they want to go with speed, someone that can stretch the field. If they decide to go the defensive route when it comes to their #11 pick, they could go for someone like Amobi Okoye who would help their interior line or they could go with Adam Carricker who can play defensive end and defensive tackle.
Positions that must be addressed during this year's draft.
1. Wide Receiver
2. Defensive Tackle
3. Corner Back
They have got to take Dwayne Jarrett(USC) or Ted Ginn Jr.(OSU) with the 11th pick. I would prefer Jarrett over Ginn, but both are going to be great. It's the biggest problem that their offense had. Without a number one receiver, it put alot of pressure on Gore to rush for 130 yards a game and alot of pressure on Alex Smith, with Jarrett it would lessen the work load for Gore, meaning he would be healthier and potentially have an even better season.
San Francisco runs a 3-4 defense, and running that defense means they have to have a big nose tackle that can stop the run. Marques Douglas had a great year, but he is very small when it comes to defensive tackles, he could even possibly think of a switch to the end position. In the best case scenario, the Niners would take DeMarcus Tyler in the second round, it is unlikely that he will slip to the 42nd pick, but you never know. If Tyler isn't there in the second round, they will probably go a different route, maybe defensive back.
Shawntae Spencer really impressed alot of people this year, as did Walt Harris but Harris is nearing the end of his career and besides the two of them, there isn't alot of depth at corner back. If Tyler isn't available in the second round, it is very likely they will take a corner back. Potential picks for them are Chris Houston(ARK), Marcus McCauley(FRESNO) or Tanard Jackson(SYR).
Because of the great play from Brandon Moore and rookie Manny Lawson they have more of a need at inside linebacker, than outside linebacker.
They don't really need someone that would need to step in immediately because Derek Smith and Jeff Ulbrich have a couple more years. They could look at getting Buster Davis(FSU), Brandon Siler(FLA) or H.B. Blades(PITT).
Tony Wragge only started 4 games at center this year, and niners allowed 35 sacks. They could add some depth on the line, starting with center. Dan Mozes(WVU), Enoka Lucas(ORE) or Dustin Fry(CLEM) could all be nice pick ups for the Bay area.
San Francisco is really one of the up and coming teams, after Gore and Smith showed that they could succeed as starters they really started to click, and with a couple more additions in the off season they could be looking at playoff aspirations very soon.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
2006 season: 7-9